Paris Visit Summer 2006

Paris Day 5: May 18


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I must have been in a weird mood today, for I journeyed to the catacombes of Paris as well as a famous cemetery. Then I lightened the mood by going to a man-made park and nearby walking tour, before finally going back up to Montmartre.

I took the metro to the catacombes, which is in a building that is poorly marked near a large traffic circle. What I found there was really, really cool. My first catacomb. Anyway, in 1786 the city moved the remains of 6 million Parisians from the unsanitary cemetery in Les Halles to the ancient quarries formed by excavations at the base of three buttes (transportations happened at night). So after a 150+ step spiral staircase you emerge at tunnels that look just like this one. I swear it goes on for half a mile.

Eventually you get to the many, many, many corridors filled with bones. Typically the arm and leg bones are stacked, with a row for skulls. I'm not sure what they do with the rest, probably stack them behind. Sometimes you find skulls in patterns, like this heart shape.
This looks like a tomb, but is actually just a piece of art to help hold up the wall. The artists name is on the structure. This was a nice place to sit, and is easily the quietest place in Paris. By the way, these tunnels go one for a mile or so. And you don't end where you started. I still have no idea where I ended up, just some random place in Paris!


So after I found my way, I went to the Cimetiére du Montparnasse, a cemetary where many famous people have been burried. Pictured is the final resting spot of Jean-Paul Sartre, the French literary modernist. Also here (though I couldn't find them all) are Jean Seberg (actress), Samuel Becket, Guy de Maupassant, and Serge Gainsbourg among others. I can say they are all tightly packed in.


I was quite hungry at this point, and wandered around until I found this place. This is the place where I had the best meal during my stay. I had smoked salmon and endive salad, beef and mashed potatoes, and kir.



I finally headed by Metro to Buttes-Chaumont, one of the biggest, most beautiful and little known parks in the heart of Paris. The park is man-made, and was commissioned by Napoleon III in 1864. I entered the park near a man-made rock structure where steps have been carved out. The lake is encircled by weeping willows, and in the center of the lake is a tall rocky hill, at the top of which is a nice folly.

Stone Steps Grassy Hill
Hilltop Gazebo Gazebo Overlooking Pond
Ducks Waterfall Grotto Entrance

Buttes-Chaumont also has a man-made waterfall, inside a grotto. This park has everything! Afterwards I headed out on the rest of my walking tour, visiting a micro-village on the top of a butte.

This is on the Butte Bergeyre, looking down five stories to the next street over. It looks like Paris appartments aren't much bigger than Paris hotel rooms.

Although mostly built in the 1920s, this Art Deco house is an interesting contrast.


This magnificient view of Montmartre is on the corner of Rue Georges Lardennois and Rue Rémy-de-Gourmont. This corner also holds a small vineyard.

Afterwards, I went up to Montmartre to buy some paintings and have dinner.

This is the Place du Tertre in Montmartre. It is the artist's square where artists paint portraits and sell their work. I bought two great paintings for Doug and Kay, and then had dinner in the center of the square. This picture is from my seat. I had Beef Bourgonge and pâte, along with some kir.


This was such an idyllic street on the west side of Montmartre that I had to photograph it. Anyway, afterwards I took the Metro home and bought wine and chocolate.




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